Why is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month Important?
Did you know that diabetes could cause eye disease? Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness, and many don’t experience symptoms. Early detection, timely treatment, and appropriate follow-up care with your eye doctor are the only ways to prevent vision loss.
Diabetic patients require special eye care to manage their blood sugar and ensure the whole body stays healthy. Eyecare Associates physicians and staff strongly encourages patients to schedule a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year, which is vital in maintaining good eye care. Adopting good eye care helps avoid complications such as cataracts, macular swelling, and optic nerve damage.
What is diabetic eye disease?
Diabetic eye disease is a group of eye conditions that can affect people with diabetes. All forms of diabetic eye disease have the potential to cause severe vision loss and blindness. Diabetic eye disease can result in the following:
- Diabetic retinopathy affects blood vessels in the light-sensitive tissue called the retina that lines the eye’s back. It is the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetes and the leading cause of vision impairment and blindness among working-age adults.
- Diabetic macular edema (DME), a consequence of diabetic retinopathy, DME is swelling in an area of the retina called the macula.
- Cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. Adults with diabetes are 2-5 times more likely than those without diabetes to develop cataracts. Cataract also tends to develop at an earlier age in people with diabetes.
- Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve—the bundle of nerve fibers that connects the eye to the brain. Some types of glaucoma are associated with elevated pressure inside the eye. In adults, diabetes nearly doubles the risk of glaucoma.
How can diabetic eye disease be detected?
A comprehensive dilated eye exam includes visual acuity testing, Tonometry, pupil dilation, and Optical coherence tomography (OCT). These tests allow the doctor to check the retina for:
- Changes to blood vessels
- Leaking blood vessels or warning signs of leaky blood vessels, such as fatty deposits
- Swelling of the macula (DME)
- Changes in the lens
- Damage to nerve tissue
What Are Other Eye Problems Related to Diabetes?
Diabetes can cause vision problems even if you do not have a form of diabetic eye disease.
If your blood sugar levels change quickly, it can affect the shape of your eye’s lens, causing blurry vision. Your vision goes back to normal after your blood sugar stabilizes. Have your blood sugar controlled before getting your eyeglasses prescription checked. This ensures you receive the correct prescription.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that about 90% of vision loss from diabetes can be prevented. Early detection is KEY! People with diabetes should get critical, annual eye exams before they have signs of vision loss. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, studies show that 60% of diabetic patients are not getting the eye exams their doctors recommend.
Our doctors will provide consistent and mindful care to help diabetic patients keep their vision and treat impairment. Call TODAY to schedule your appointment!